It’s time for small businesses to make mobile moves

Small Business Saturday is just around the corner, and local business owners constantly need to update their strategies and platforms to play with the big boys. EventSpot, an online event management system from Constant Contact, Inc., says mobile may be the answer; 81% of small businesses and nonprofits intend to bulk up their use of mobile to market events in the upcoming year, according to a recently published survey conducted by EventSpot from Constant Contact.

“Small business folks are realizing that the best way to expand their business, and then to also get new business, is looking to their present-day customers firsts,” says Chris Litster, VP and GM of EventSpot at Constant Contact. “The volume [of attendees] isn’t huge for each event, but the importance of being with somebody face-to-face, being able to look somebody in the eye, [and] being able to engage with them in person is being understood as a way to really continue and build that engagement marketing cycle.”

According to the study, 16% of respondents, which include approximately 300 B2B and B2C small businesses and nonprofits, say they currently use a mobile device to send out content to potential guests. Of the 16%, 75% claim they send event schedules, 41% say they distribute session descriptions, and 19% provide speaker biographies.

Litster says that this mobile adoption has evolved into the norm for how consumers view their content.

“You see it everywhere. You walk [and] people have their noses deep down in their mobile devices. That’s how they’re getting their quick-form type of content,” Litster says.

Litster acknowledges that an event fosters two separate experiences, that of the attendee and that of the host, and claims that mobile can satisfy both parties.

“The hosts know that the consumers, the people they’re trying to get to come to their event, are consuming that data more often now than before through a smartphone, through a tablet, or through a mobile device,” Litster says. “For the event’s host, they’re looking to say, ‘How can I ultimately make my event more attractive’ or ‘How can I take advantage of things that help me to make the registration, the management, and then the reporting of the event more streamlined and more straightforward?’”

The study also notes that 20% of respondents claim to receive strong responses and customer interactions by collecting payments through their smartphones. Those surveyed say they gain attendee engagement through the distribution of event information and commentary uploaded on social networks via their smartphones, as well.

Besides broadening their overall reach, Litster says that small businesses have the home field advantage of attracting a local crowd. “The whole idea is that everything is local. An event really exemplifies that,” he says. “People that are coming to the event are people that within 25 to 30 miles of wherever the event is taking place or your store front.”

However, not all small businesses are ready to take the mobile marketing plunge. According to the survey, 13% claim to be uninterested or disinterested in incorporating mobile in their future event planning endeavors. Notably, small businesses expressed concern in readability as well as “blurring” the boundaries between using their cell phone for business and personal purposes. Litster advises small businesses to work with a mobile event planner vendor to overcome any concerns.

Social appears to play a significant role among small business event planners, as well; 23% claim to promote events with hashtags and 27% say they incorporate Pinterest. However, Litster says that small businesses cannot simply rely on a Facebook event invite alone if they want to gain insight on their event’s attendees.

“When you are a small businesses owner, the importance of…the way that you’re projecting your brand, the way that you’re looking to understand the details of who’s coming, what they’are looking to learn from the event; the idea of a Facebook event is closer to an RSVP when you only need to know how many people are coming compared to full-on registration,” Litster says.

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